First: To speak about Allah, Islam, iman and truth is by no means to speak about something new even when we are speaking with people of other faiths who may know little or nothing about Islam. They may not have any idea of what the Islamic way of life is but deep in their heart, without sometimes being aware of it, the knowledge and the intimate feeling of tawhid (Oneness of God) is imprinted on every human beings conscious. This is what we find in the Quran:
"And whenever your Sustainer brings forth their offspring from the loins of the children of Adam, He thus calls upon them to bear witness about themselves: Am I not your Sustainer? to which they answer: Yea, indeed, we do bear witness thereto. Of this we remind you lest you say on the Day of Resurrection, 'Verily we were unaware of this"
Thus to speak about Allah, the creation and destiny is not to speak about something new but, on the contrary, it is to wake up and give a new life to a feeling which may be dormant. Allah says:
"O you who have attained to faith, Respond to the call of God and the Apostle whenever he calls you unto that which will give you life and know that God intervenes between man and his heart"
Our call adds nothing new to our nature; our call needs to make people aware of something their hearts have forgotten. This must influence our way of speaking and dealing with people for we try to lead them to the origin and not to anything new. In Islam, to call is to recall.
The second principle we must never forget is that there exists a link of brotherhood between all the human beings. We are from the same origin and Allah says in the Quran "O men!" addressing all mankind for we are all 'sons of Adam' (bani Adam). As such we should develop in our heart, affection towards all of humanity regardless of their faith. Every human being is a sign of the greatness of Allah. With this state of mind our sincerity should be reflected in the way we communicate, without being judgmental and as genuine callers to truth and justice,
A well-known hadith quoted by Muslim and Bukhari says "None of you perfects his belief (or truly believes) until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself". We often reduce the scope of this hadith to our bothers in faith. But this wish should concern, and especially in the West, our brothers in humanity and we should wish for them to be guided and to find the right path. To be a da'iya in the West requires that we avoid this conflicting attitude in order to present Islam as a reminder, a message of brotherhood, of love and hope. There are not simply words... but the genuine manifestation of a state of mind and of a state of heart.
Our methodology, our fiqh ad-da'wa, is based on these principles and is also constituted by three important elements. Our religion teaches us that the knowledge of the tawhid is written in the heart and in the soul of every human being but some of them have forgotten this truth. The function of the Prophets - and ours, following in their footsteps - is to remind people by spreading the knowledge and the understanding of Islam. This is the function of ar-rasul, an-nazir and ad-da'iya and it is only when this recall has been carried out that we can say that the people have denied themselves (are in kuffar). Al-kufr is to have been recalled, to know, and then to deny.
On the Day of Judgment people will be asked:
"Has no Warner ever come to you?" and the kuffar (those who denied themselves) will reply, "Yes, a Warner did indeed come unto us but we gave him the lie and said, Never Allah sent down anything"
The first dimension of our methodology is then to spread knowledge and especially in the Western societies where Muslims are living in large numbers. As Muslims we are taught that two things have to be avoided, ignorance and forgetfulness. Today we are witnessing a great lie: the people in general and the youth in particular think that they are free to choose and very often they know nothing about their religion. But freedom cannot be based on ignorance for they are antithetical words. The ignorance of faith and religion in our societies works as a constraint, as a coercion and as such this fact sheds a new light on the well-known aya: "No coercion in matters of faith". There exists not only coercion through power and strength but there is another type of compulsion, more harmful in fact, for it uses the ignorance to deceive people and lead them astray. As Muslims we need to spread all forms of knowledge so that all people have the opportunity to choose in full awareness.